More business leaders worry about sales than any other subject. Of course lack of sales volume will lead to a range of other worries, to keep the business leader awake at night! But for now I just want to focus on worrying about sales, and two things you can do to change that!

Most business leaders worry about sales because they simply don’t get the performance they’re looking for. They don’t get exceptional and sustainable results, they want and need. If you drill down you will find reasons easily enough. But many of us are so keen to get an answer, we don’t drill down far enough. Don’t stop when you get to the first or even the second or third answer, keep going, and then go again, and again!

The Reason

When you ask, ‘Why is sales performance down?’ Lets assume the answer is because the team, or maybe an individual is just not making the sales expected. What I am suggesting is you don’t stop there, you have to ask why? The next answer might be, they are not getting in front of enough people; perhaps there aren’t enough leads, or they’re not closing etc. Don’t stop there! Keep digging until you get to the very root of the matter. You’ll know when to stop, because you’ll end up back where you started, at you!

Worrying about sales only happens when sales are not going well, that’s obvious. What may not be quite so obvious is that what made a great salesperson a few years ago, is no longer good enough. It’s not just technology that has changed, people have too. The way people buy has developed. The old way of selling is just that, the old way!

Selling emphasis today is less about traditional skills taught to call centres and direct sales forces, common-place in the 80’s and 90’s. Today, in my view, sales is all about Emotional Intelligence, or if you prefer, the full range of ‘soft skills’ coupled with, knowledge, passion and motivation. Selling today is 80% emotional intelligence and 20% knowledge and motivation. When I talk knowledge, I’m not just referring to product knowledge but also human nature. Overbearing ego has no place in the modern sales arena, but significant self-awareness and empathy absolutely does.

Back to finding the root cause then, when you dig deep enough, you’ll find yourself another colleague of equal status at the end of the search. The role you or they take is how much influence and positive input  you have had on how you select and develop your sales stars from the get-go. It is not their close ratios or other sales metrics, they simply tell you there is a problem, not what the root cause is. In a very high proportion of low sales performance it is simply that selection and expectation where not correctly matched.

The Solution Part 1

With the sales profiling tool that I use, any sales manager, recruiter, HR manager or director can get a full blown report on all of those elements required for a modern day sales performer. You can see who has them and who has not, despite what you might read in a CV or be told at the interview. Great performance needs all round expertise. A role-play might help a little but it still only tells you part of the story! The report will not tell you to hire or fire, it will show you who will fly and who will need help to fly, and what help. Surely that’s got to a new SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for you and your business?

It amazes me that we, as a general rule will take more care investigating the capabilities of our smart phone than we will the people we hire. The difference is you may reject more people or may find you have to invest in more training. The significant advantage is, you can hire a Emotionally Intelligent sales superstar who can blow your socks off!

The Solution Part 2

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need a superstar, you can grow your own. The profiling tool is not just for hiring. Use it to help you select the right person and then use it again to help develop them. Comparing results, for example on pre- and post hire or training, will show you how fast and well your next superstar is developing.

And Finally 

Don’t just take the word of the individual, or friendly forces references. Don’t rely on the well constructed CV, in concert with well rehearsed answers. Instead add to the mix a detailed sales work-style profile report. This will include bespoke designed questions, to check strengths and weaknesses. Ensure the person you are considering has the core elements needed to make a great sales person.

It’s also worth pointing out that it’s never too late to undertake the profile, it will also highlight the team dynamics and identify areas for soft skills training. The really great news is emotional intelligence can be taught and can be improved. Imagine not having to worry about sales! How does that feel? You may not be able to tell, but this is one of my favourite subjects and I will happily talk to you about this over coffee. So please do drop me a mail or give me a call…